Hello and welcome to The GTM Newsletter – read by over 50,000 revenue professionals weekly to scale their companies and careers. GTMnow is the media extension of GTMfund – sharing insight on go-to-market from working with hundreds of portfolio companies backed by over 350+ of the best in the game executive operators who have been there, done that at the world’s fastest growing SaaS companies.

When examining aspirational companies, it’s common to focus on emulating what is visible. However, this is often their end results. The most beneficial approach is to study their journey – understanding the processes and strategies they employed to achieve success.

Wisely, a customer intelligence platform that leverages consumer data to power operations, marketing, and decision-making for restaurants, was acquired by Olo for $187M, and their client list includes major chains like bartaco, P.F. Changs, and First Watch. 

But the path to success wasn’t linear. At one point, Wisely had less than $11 in their bank account. Co-Founder & CEO Mike Vichich and Co-Founder & CPO, Tyler Felous, launched and subsequently killed three different consumer apps before launching Wisely, but at the same time, the quality of their software was improving. 

The philosophy that inspired Vichich to keep going? The process, however difficult, would become a defining story of his life. He wanted his story to be, “it was hard, but we kept solving problems and kept figuring it out.” 

So how did Wisely go from $11 in the bank to selling for $187M?

Let’s get into it.

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6 Things Wisely Did Right on the Path to Acquisition

These are 6 things that Mike Vichich and the Wisely team did right to build and scale the company, leading to a $187M acquisition 👇

#1 Started with a scalable Letter of Intent (LOI)

Vichich sent out roughly 3,700 emails to his network and restaurants expounding the benefits of knowing your guests, their behavior, and their preferences. Many of the emails bounced back, but one response changed the trajectory: it was from the cofounder of the Barteca Restaurant Group, Andy Pforzheimer, who would later become a board member at Wisely. Pforzheimer instantly recognized the value in a platform like Wisely. The restaurant wanted a way to personalize the restaurant experience for customers and better understand their most loyal guests. Wisely drafted a low-risk, non-binding LOI, in which the restaurant agreed to pay a minimal fee once Wisely delivered their customer intelligence software. They repeated this model of building and selling software to establishments, eventually reaching $10M in committed annual recurring revenue (CARR). 

#2 They brought on board members with industry knowledge

Wisely brought on Pforzheimer as a board member, who knew the restaurant industry inside and out, and David Cantu, founder of the successful restaurant tech platform HotSchedules. They each provided Vichich with invaluable insight about the market and helped drive critical decision-making.

#3 They transitioned from founder-led sales to a sales machine

Vichich recommends starting small: Bring in two sales reps who can learn from the founder and through osmosis until they’re able to sell the product repeatedly. From there, hire a VP of sales whose job it is to replicate what made the initial sales reps successful. 

#4 They leveraged this one simple GTM strategy: “The Cadence”

Vichich credits a go-to-market strategy dubbed “The Cadence” for accelerating Wisely’s brand and growth. Here’s how it works: 

Rather than having each function of a SaaS startup (sales, finance, product, and marketing) run on a 3-month sequential basis, Vichich’s teams ran on a quarterly cycle. These cycles were offset by 45 days, with product/engineering and marketing on one calendar, and sales and finance on the other. Together, these calendars provide a single operating cadence. 

At Wisely, product and engineering was focused on shipping a quarterly roadmap that culminated in a release and demo event for customers and prospects. After a marathon sprint, the engineering team had some time to decompress. 

After the release, the organization worked together to close deals in the pipeline, with every leader supporting a deal, so that Wisely could hit their sales numbers. When the team wasn’t closing deals, sales reps could reach out to prospects about the release event and engage their network in an organic, non-salesy way. Each department was collaborating and supporting each other’s efforts, and celebrating major company milestones together every 45 days. This catapulted Wisely from an unknown startup to a strong brand that shipped new releases often. 

#5 They established a network for decision-making, rather than a hierarchy

Vichich encouraged direct communication between teams. If a sales rep came off a customer call with product feedback, they could bring that feedback directly to product rather than navigating various channels. The measure of success was higher-fidelity communication and closing loops quickly to streamline processes.

#6 They embraced a culture of healthy tension and critical thinking

To Vichich, company loyalty means speaking up for the right thing, not just doing something because the CEO or your manager tells you to. Everyone at Wisely was encouraged to ask questions and (politely) challenge decisions across departments, regardless of when they joined the company.

Replicating success from Wisely to Pursuit

Since successfully selling Wisely to Olo for $187M, Vichich has launched his next venture: Pursuit. This is a new industry so in order to get up to speed, he scheduled hundreds of calls with influencers and consultants in the space to find common pain points.

These six strategies were crucial to Wisely’s success, and he is applying these learnings to his new venture. For example, he transitioned from discovery calls to sales calls, employing the same Letter of Intent (LOI) model that propelled Wisely, with a focus on succinctly defining the problem and the proposed solution.

🗓 Upcoming digital live events:

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👀 More for your eyeballs:

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👂 More for your eardrums:

Helping founders with GTM strategies and teaching sales reps how to earn the right to ask questions, which questions to ask, and when is the primary driver for Richard Harris. He brings 20+ years of experience, having done all the roles – SDR, AE, Manager, Director, VP of Sales, and Director of Sales Ops – to the table. His client list includes Zoom, Salesforce, Gainsight and 80+ SaaS start-ups. He is also the Co-Founder of Surf and Sales as well as the host of the Surf and Sales Podcast. 

In this episode, you’ll learn key strategies for sales negotiations, along with common sales missteps and how to avoid them.

Listen on Spotify or find it anywhere you get your podcasts by searching “The GTM Podcast.”

🚀 Start-ups to watch: 

BurnRate: BurnRate helps you map out how many customers and GTM employees you need and see exactly when to acquire them, so you can hit your targets every time. Their revenue, demand, and headcount planning helps GTM teams drive exceptional growth in any market condition.

🔥 Hottest GTM jobs of the week:

  1. Sales Executive at Spekit (Denver, CO)

  2. Founding Sales at Aviator (Remote – US)

  3. GTM Content Enablement Specialist at Vanta (Remote – US)

  4. Enterprise Account Executive at Vanta (Remote – US)

  5. Customer Success Manager (June) at UserEvidence (Remote – US)

See more top GTM jobs on the GTMfund Job Board.

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That’s it, that’s all. 

The strategies that Wisely employed came out of a challenging process and the relentless pursuit of solving problems.

Wisely’s story makes me think of the words on adaptability in the face of challenge from Jeff Bezos: “What we need to do is always lean into the future; when the world changes around you and when it changes against you – what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind – you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn’t a strategy.”

The only constant is change. So the only path forward is to adapt. Then, the only outcome becomes growth.

Have a great weekend ahead – see you next week.

Barker ✌

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The post From $11 in the Bank to Selling for $187M: 6 Things Wisely Did Right appeared first on GTMnow.